April 7

Hub Arkush’s NFL Draft preview: Defensive tackles

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Georgia’s Jordan Davis could be a Top 10 to 15 pick, but also may be the only defensive tackle selected in the first round this year.

While very thin at the top, this group of prospects could offer a number of eventual five- to eight-year starters in the third through fifth rounds with a lot of them more in need of a natural position than better skills.

Several of the kids we’ll analyze with the edge rushers will actually be better prospects as 4-3 defensive ends than any of the players projected here.

Day 1 prospects

1. Jordan Davis, Georgia (6-6¼, 341, Senior)

Watching a man Davis’ size move the way he does — he ran a 4.78 40-yard dash at the combine with a 32-inch vertical leap — is worth the price of a ticket all by itself. As a nose or two-gap anchor tackle, Davis is the immovable object. As a first-step penetrator he’s the irresistible force, and that’s with some questionable technique — a tendency to play too high. It’s scary to think what he can become with NFL coaching.

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2. Devonte Wyatt, Georgia (6-2¾, 304, Senior)

Wyatt is the best three-technique in this draft and another very good athlete, but several scouts mentioned concern that some of his production was aided by the special attention teams had to pay to Davis. He is a high-motor guy and disruptive penetrator, but he lacks Davis’ power and some of his unique traits. He’s an exciting player with enough question marks that he may drop to the top of the second round.

Day 2 prospects

3. Logan Hall, Houston (6-6, 283, Senior)

Hall played defensive tackle at Houston but will either be a five-technique or more likely a left end in a base 4-3 defense. He’s got room to add weight/muscle on his broad frame but lacks the natural power in his lower base to ever be a true two-gap interior defender. He’s not a great pass rusher yet, but has traits to work with. He can be a solid edge sealer teams won’t want to run right at.

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4. Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma (6-3½, 290, Senior)

Winfrey grew up in Maywood and went to Lake Park High School in Roselle before heading to Norman, Okla. He is a rising star with some red flags but coming off a strong Senior Bowl that has him moving up draft boards. He’s a true three-technique and a big playmaker, but he’ll need time with both NFL coaching and training that could make him an explosive penetrator.

5. DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M (6-3¾, 283, Junior)

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Leal is interesting with the body type to play almost anywhere in a 40-front and possibly the five-technique in a 30-front, but his best fit appears to be as a 4-3 left end or three-technique. He is neither especially quick nor powerful, which keeps his ceiling a tad lower than some but has the playmaking skills to be a quality starter at the next level.

6. Travis Jones, Connecticut (6-4¼, 325, Senior)

A big man with great power and huge hands, Jones is a true nose tackle or a two-gap anchor tackle who may never become a great pass rusher but will torture most rushing attacks.

7. Phidarian Mathis, Alabama (6-3¾, 310, Redshirt Senior)

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Mathis is a big boned, well-proportioned interior tackle with a huge wingspan whose best position is probably as a five-technique. He’s another natural run stuffer who may not become a significant pocket pusher and may come off the field in nickel and dime packages.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

Day 3 prospects

8. Matthew Butler, Tennessee (6-3¾, 297, Senior)

Butler is another prospect whose position is tough to determine at the NFL level. He may fit best as a three-technique or slide outside to play end. He’s a nice athlete for a big man and played his best for the Vols in the biggest games.

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9. John Ridgeway, Arkansas (6-4½, 321, Redshirt Senior)

You may be thinking country-strong farm boy, but Ridgeway is actually a former Illinois high school wrestling champ at Bloomington, who in college transferred to Arkansas after dominating at Illinois State as a redshirt freshman. Wrestling skills and attitude often transfer nicely to NFL nose tackles and offensive linemen. Ridgeway is no exception.

10. Kalia Davis, Central Florida (6-1, 302, Redshirt Senior)

Think poor man’s Aaron Donald. A three-technique with really high ceiling but very much in need of coaching and refinement. He has a lightning first step and a half and motor, now can he be taught?

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The next five

11. Neil Farrell, LSU (6-4, 330, Senior)

12. Haskell Garrett, Ohio State (6-2, 300, Senior)

13. Eyioma Uwazurike, Iowa State (6-5½, 316, Redshirt Senior)

14. Jayden Peevy, Texas A&M (6- 5¼, 308, Senior)

15. D.J. Davidson, Arizona State (6-3, 327, Redshirt Senior)

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

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Georgia’s Jordan Davis could be a Top 10 to 15 pick, but also may be the only defensive tackle selected in the first round this year.

While very thin at the top, this group of prospects could offer a number of eventual five- to eight-year starters in the third through fifth rounds with a lot of them more in need of a natural position than better skills.

READ MORE:  Highway camera expansion awaits Pritzker’s signature

Several of the kids we’ll analyze with the edge rushers will actually be better prospects as 4-3 defensive ends than any of the players projected here.

Day 1 prospects

1. Jordan Davis, Georgia (6-6¼, 341, Senior)

Watching a man Davis’ size move the way he does — he ran a 4.78 40-yard dash at the combine with a 32-inch vertical leap — is worth the price of a ticket all by itself. As a nose or two-gap anchor tackle, Davis is the immovable object. As a first-step penetrator he’s the irresistible force, and that’s with some questionable technique — a tendency to play too high. It’s scary to think what he can become with NFL coaching.

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2. Devonte Wyatt, Georgia (6-2¾, 304, Senior)

Wyatt is the best three-technique in this draft and another very good athlete, but several scouts mentioned concern that some of his production was aided by the special attention teams had to pay to Davis. He is a high-motor guy and disruptive penetrator, but he lacks Davis’ power and some of his unique traits. He’s an exciting player with enough question marks that he may drop to the top of the second round.

Day 2 prospects

3. Logan Hall, Houston (6-6, 283, Senior)

Hall played defensive tackle at Houston but will either be a five-technique or more likely a left end in a base 4-3 defense. He’s got room to add weight/muscle on his broad frame but lacks the natural power in his lower base to ever be a true two-gap interior defender. He’s not a great pass rusher yet, but has traits to work with. He can be a solid edge sealer teams won’t want to run right at.

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4. Perrion Winfrey, Oklahoma (6-3½, 290, Senior)

Winfrey grew up in Maywood and went to Lake Park High School in Roselle before heading to Norman, Okla. He is a rising star with some red flags but coming off a strong Senior Bowl that has him moving up draft boards. He’s a true three-technique and a big playmaker, but he’ll need time with both NFL coaching and training that could make him an explosive penetrator.

5. DeMarvin Leal, Texas A&M (6-3¾, 283, Junior)

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Leal is interesting with the body type to play almost anywhere in a 40-front and possibly the five-technique in a 30-front, but his best fit appears to be as a 4-3 left end or three-technique. He is neither especially quick nor powerful, which keeps his ceiling a tad lower than some but has the playmaking skills to be a quality starter at the next level.

6. Travis Jones, Connecticut (6-4¼, 325, Senior)

A big man with great power and huge hands, Jones is a true nose tackle or a two-gap anchor tackle who may never become a great pass rusher but will torture most rushing attacks.

7. Phidarian Mathis, Alabama (6-3¾, 310, Redshirt Senior)

READ MORE:  Russell Wilson Net Worth

Mathis is a big boned, well-proportioned interior tackle with a huge wingspan whose best position is probably as a five-technique. He’s another natural run stuffer who may not become a significant pocket pusher and may come off the field in nickel and dime packages.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

Day 3 prospects

8. Matthew Butler, Tennessee (6-3¾, 297, Senior)

Butler is another prospect whose position is tough to determine at the NFL level. He may fit best as a three-technique or slide outside to play end. He’s a nice athlete for a big man and played his best for the Vols in the biggest games.

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9. John Ridgeway, Arkansas (6-4½, 321, Redshirt Senior)

You may be thinking country-strong farm boy, but Ridgeway is actually a former Illinois high school wrestling champ at Bloomington, who in college transferred to Arkansas after dominating at Illinois State as a redshirt freshman. Wrestling skills and attitude often transfer nicely to NFL nose tackles and offensive linemen. Ridgeway is no exception.

10. Kalia Davis, Central Florida (6-1, 302, Redshirt Senior)

Think poor man’s Aaron Donald. A three-technique with really high ceiling but very much in need of coaching and refinement. He has a lightning first step and a half and motor, now can he be taught?

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The next five

11. Neil Farrell, LSU (6-4, 330, Senior)

12. Haskell Garrett, Ohio State (6-2, 300, Senior)

13. Eyioma Uwazurike, Iowa State (6-5½, 316, Redshirt Senior)

14. Jayden Peevy, Texas A&M (6- 5¼, 308, Senior)

15. D.J. Davidson, Arizona State (6-3, 327, Redshirt Senior)

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

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